Spanish Grand Prix preview: Time for team orders at Red Bull?

Will Spain reveal the true F1 pecking order? (2:57)

Jennie Gow and Maurice Hamilton look ahead to the Spanish Grand Prix. (2:57)

Once again the Azerbaijan Grand Prix delivered a thrilling race as Lewis Hamilton emerged from the chaos to claim his maiden win in Baku and take hold of the championship lead for the first time in 2018.

Next up: Spain - a grand prix where we haven't seen back-to-back winners since Michael Schumacher in 2003-04.

Focus on... Red Bull's team chemistry

After having not suffered a double DNF since 2010, Red Bull has now had two in the space of three races thanks to a dramatic collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen late in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The pair had been battling each other for the majority of the race before hard contact at top speed along Baku's main straight sent both cars into immediate retirement.

The double DNF, which has seen Red Bull slip 59 points behind Ferrari in the race for the constructors' championship, comes during a spell of poor reliability for Red Bull's Renault engine and will only add to existing frustrations inside the garage.

All of this is likely to play a major role in Ricciardo's future; the Australian already linked to a potential end of season move to Ferrari. For Verstappen, he must prove to the Formula One world he can race at the front and keep it clean.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has always allowed his drivers to race but he will know this cannot continue. It will be interesting to see if any protocols are put in place for Barcelona and if there's any friction between his two highly talented drivers.

In need of a win? Sebastian Vettel

He's dominated the opening four races of the season yet Sebastian Vettel still finds himself with a world championship points deficit to Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel has taken three straight pole positions but has been unable to convert his last two into victories, admittedly after a pair of untimely Safety Cars.

Nevertheless, the German must strike now while Ferrari have the ascendancy or we could see a repeat of 2017 where he lost out to Hamilton for the championship after being unable to capitalise on opportunities.

Despite having only claimed one victory in Barcelona, Vettel does have a strong record at the Spanish Grand Prix with nine consecutive top six finishes and podiums every year since joining Ferrari.

In need of points? Fernando Alonso

To say Fernando Alonso is in need of points might seem a little strange given that the two-time world champion has scored in seven straight races and is one of only two drivers to finish each race in 2018 inside the top seven, but it's been a long time since he scored points in front of his home fans.

Since returning to McLaren in 2015, Alonso hasn't scored a single point on Spanish soil. He retired in 2015 and 2016 before finishing 12th last year, so, in a much-improved McLaren, you can bet he's eyeing some redemption this weekend.

Tyre talk

Available compounds: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

Pirelli's pointers:

  • The surface may be smoother, but the long and high speed corners remain the same, putting plenty of energy and stress through the tyres particularly at Turn 3 and Turn 9.

  • Wear and degradation rates will need to be re-assessed. Although the teams tried out the new surface at the start of the year, the weather was much cooler, and the cars were much less evolved. The new surface may have evolved as well.

  • Barcelona contains a good all-round mix of corners and loadings that emphasise every aspect of a car's performance - a reason why it is a popular testing venue.

  • Last year, with harder compounds nominated, the majority of the field stopped twice but with a variety of different strategies: in the past, Spain has also been a three-stop race.

Minimum starting pressures: Front 22psi, rear 20.5psi

Weather forecast

There's been plenty of rain around Barcelona during the week but it should stay away once the cars hit the track for FP1 on Friday.

As we've seen with a number of other races this season, the warmer conditions will be present on Friday where it's expected to be at 21C before dipping to 17C for an overcast race day. Still, these temperatures are far cooler than what the teams experienced during winter testing only a few months ago.


Hamilton's win in Baku has kept him favourite with bookmakers for the Spanish Grand Prix. The reigning world champion is paying 11/8 to make it back-to-back wins in 2018.

However, the value could be with teammate Valtteri Bottas who has been one of the season's best performers to date. If you think he can bounce back from his Azerbaijan heartbreak he is paying 15/2.

Last but not least, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen also represents some value at 12/1 to win his first race since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.

ESPN's prediction

2018 is proving to be one of the more difficult seasons in recent history to predict but if consistency is to be rewarded -- and that's what we're going with -- there's only one man who deserves a win.

Winner: Bottas

Bonus prediction: Vettel to re-take championship lead